Narrator: This is Science Today. About one quarter of all the toxins that bacterial pathogens make are what are called pore-forming toxins, which cause a variety of bacterial diseases, including staph and strep infections. Raffi Aroian, an associate professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, questioned if cells have natural defenses against pore-forming toxins – a question that surprisingly, had never been addressed before.
Aroian: What we discovered is in fact, the cells do have a defense against this and our lab is looking more and more into this.
Narrator: Specifically, Aroian and his colleagues discovered that two genes in a pathway linked to a range of processes, including immunity, were activated in response to the toxins.
Aroian: If you have them, you can handle a low chronic dose of pore-forming toxin. If you don't have them, you can't. This is actually the first evidence in the literature that we know of that animal cells have a defense against a pore-forming toxin.
Narrator: This discovery may eventually pave the way for the development of effective, new treatments for bacterial infections. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.